As a franchisee, you’re responsible for everything from operations to business development and human resources. Operating a single unit for a first-time business owner can pose many challenges. The obvious benefit of joining a franchise system is the fact that some of the processes listed above are well documented and clarified.
So, what happens when you’ve grown accustomed to operating a single unit, feel comfortable with the processes and want to re-energize your business investment? For many Smoothie King operators, the opportunity for serious growth may lie in multi-unit expansion.
How Do You Know It’s the Right Time to Grow?
A successful multi-unit franchisee needs to be adequately capitalized.
This is a sentiment echoed by Greg Thomas, president of LSGF Management and Smoothie King multi-unit franchisee. Beyond looking at the brand’s health, multi-unit owners need to take a careful look at their financial well-being before making the decision to grow.
The decision to become a multi-unit franchisee should be analytical, not emotional. It’s critical to keep a sharp eye on return-on-investment possibilities when selecting the brand and franchise opportunity.
“Numbers, numbers, numbers,” said Greg. “It depends on how much the initial investment costs, it’s the price-to-earnings point—and how much you expect to get paid back on the investment.”
Like many franchisees, Greg was a frequent Smoothie King guest who used the smoothies as part of a healthy and active lifestyle.
“I like to work out, I like to exercise, and I work out at L.A. Fitness,” Greg explained. “At first, there was a Smoothie King right inside the gym, but they closed it and moved maybe a hundred yards away.”
Smoothie King quickly became part of his daily fitness regimen. In fact, he would go to the gym from 7 to 8 p.m., and Smoothie King was always the next stop to get a smoothie to help him recharge.
As the location began cutting evening hours, Greg recognized the existing franchisee at the store was struggling. In keeping with his M.O. as a business owner and investor, he took the opportunity to acquire the Smoothie King location and turn it around.
Today, Greg and his business partner Grant Simom are multi-brand, multi-unit owners with 50 Great Clips stores and 65 T-Mobile locations. With five Smoothie King locations, Greg is looking to the future to potentially own 15 or more stores.
A big reason why he’s interested in pursuing additional investment opportunities is because of the strong rebranding effort the company has made, zeroing in on its core message – inspiring people to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
What Is the No. 1 Skill Multi-Unit Owners Need?
On top of having sufficient capital to expand, a strong multi-unit portfolio requires a rock-solid supporting team. From general managers down to hourly employees, franchisees need to identify and recruit individuals who will work to help their stores succeed.
“The key to success for a multi-unit owner is the ability to build a team and manage people,” explained Kevin King, Chief Development Officer for Smoothie King. “You’re going to be pulled in many directions. You have to prioritize in order to make the best use of your time.”
High-quality hires can come from all walks of life. They may be guests who are burnt out on the day-to-day rat race or a fitness enthusiast who simply loves the brand. Whoever the manager may be, they need to be able to foster strong team-member morale and motivate the team.
“I’m looking for someone with some brains, personality, a good attitude, and you can mold them. Hopefully, the brand and its mission mean something to them, as well,” explained Greg Thomas.
Ultimately, multi-unit success comes down to being able to delegate tasks, direct your support staff and grow their skill sets.
What’s the Strategy for Expanding Your Multi-Unit Footprint?
In keeping with Smoothie King’s focus on being a purpose-driven brand, any discussion of multi-unit growth with franchisees begins with their goals with respect to their investment.
“It really depends on the background of the individual,” said Kevin King, Chief Development Officer. “If you’ve been in the restaurant space before, have operated multiple units and have adequate capital, then you ought to go in with the plan to do multiple stores.”
On the other hand, those who are first-time operators may want to fully embrace owning one store before expanding.
Tactically speaking, Kevin highlighted the fact that a franchisee who may be making his or her first venture into multi-unit ownership should stick with a market they know.
“It makes the most sense to grow as concentrically as possible,” Kevin explained.
In other words, it’s more efficient to build a footprint around existing stores to help franchisees implement systems and processes within each location. It also helps build brand awareness in the market, and owners can create stronger connections within their communities.
Are you looking for a multi-unit investment opportunity with a purpose? Download our Franchise Kit to learn more about the Smoothie King brand and investment models.